A longtime Diocese of Scranton priest was removed from his ministry after an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor surfaced late Friday.
The Rev. Martin M. Boylan, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in West Scranton and episcopal vicar for the Northern Pastoral Region of the Diocese of Scranton, previously held several pastoral and administrative roles at churches in Wayne County, from where the allegation stems.
The reported misconduct occurred when the accuser, now an adult, was a minor, according to a statement from Bill Genello, the executive director of communications for the diocese, emailed Sunday afternoon.
The diocese said it notified the Wayne County district attorney’s office because that’s the region where the alleged abuse took place. The Rev. Boylan previously served as administrator and pastor of St. Rita’s in Gouldsboro, and pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Honesdale, and St. Joseph Parish, White Mills, Texas Twp., all in Wayne County. It is unclear which Wayne County church the Rev. Boylan was stationed at during the time of the alleged misconduct, or when he was stationed there.
Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards said she received the information from the diocese and the matter will be investigated.
The diocese suspended the Rev.
Boylan’s “faculties to exercise priestly ministries within the Diocese” pending an investigation of the accusation, according to the statement.
The diocese said it will cooperate fully with all civil authorities in their investigation and reported the incident to Pennsylvania ChildLine, the state’s child abuse and neglect registry, run by the Department of Human Services.
Sandy Brill, a lifelong parishioner at St. Patrick’s in West Scranton, who was walking her dog near the church on Sunday evening, said she was shocked to learn of the allegation.
“I would have never guessed, not in a million years,” she said. “He’s such a nice man.”
She said the Rev. Boylan cares a great deal about St. Patrick’s Church, and its outreach to the needy in particular.
“He’s always worried about St. Pat’s food pantry, keeping it stocked,” she said. “He has a walking club, and they walk around the neighborhood. He’s just a wonderful guy. It’s so sad to hear about this.”
According to the website of St. Patrick’s Parish, the Rev. Boylan was born in Scranton and attended area Catholic schools, including the University of Scranton. After brief stints in the areas of education and social work, he studied for the priesthood at St. John Seminary in Boston and was ordained in 1980 by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick. He holds several degrees, including a doctorate in theological studies.
He served as assistant pastor at St. Jude Parish in Mountaintop; St. Gabriel Parish, now Annunciation Parish, in Hazleton; St. Peter’s Cathedral Parish in Scranton; and St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish, now Our Lady of Fatima Parish, in Wilkes-Barre.
He also served as chaplain at Bishop Hannan High School and Marywood College, now Marywood University, both in Scranton; lived in residence at St. Clare Parish, Scranton, and St. Luke Parish, Stroudsburg; and acted as administrator at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Wilkes-Barre.
In addition to the Wayne County parishes, he also served as pastor at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Towanda, St. Michael’s Parish in Canton, St. John Nepomucene Parish in Troy and St. Aloysius Parish in Ralston.
Although he has no direct knowledge of the Rev. Boylan’s case
, David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a Chicago-based support group, said the recent arrest of three Franciscan friars in Altoona and the revelation of a massive cover-up could have been a catalyst for the Wayne County victim to come forward.
“The victim may have said, ‘Things are changing. If I come forward now, maybe someone will listen.’”
Last month, Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane released a 147-page grand jury report outlining how the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 priests and other religious leaders over a 40-year period. Weeks later, felony criminal charges against three now-retired Franciscan religious leaders say they conspired to cover up a serial predator’s sexual abuse of dozens of students at a Johnstown Catholic high school. According to an Associated Press story on Sunday, a federal prosecutor may file a racketeering lawsuit against that diocese.
Mr. Clohessy encouraged anyone who saw suspected crimes or suffered crimes by the Rev. Boylan to report it to a police department.